That awkward moment when you’re forced to cut off a customer who has been laying on the sauce a bit too heavily that evening. It’s a shame because he has been tipping well, too.
You know that regardless of how you approach the situation, the patron may feel offended and uneasy, so here a few considerations to lessen the tension in an inopportune moment:
- Enlist a few of his or her cronies to help back you up when approaching the customer. The patron will be far more receptive and trusting of a long-time pal, rather than a bartender he or she just met. Perhaps, if the group finds it appropriate, you can refill drinks devoid of any alcohol in its entirety. Of course, do not place any additional charges on the bill for these synthetic beverages.
- Serve one last round as you inform the bargoer of his fate. According to Nightclub&Bar, this proposition allows the customer to “nurse” his or her last beverage as opposed to refusing to serve without warning. The outcome of the confrontation is far less severe.
- Frame your approach with an empathy-filled tone. Make them feel like you are concerned about their well-being and not the good-time police. Do not use inflammatory language or exude negative body language. It is hard to anticipate how the customer will react to the refusal in their clouded state of mind. Earlier this year, a female patron at Player’s Pub punched the bartender after being cut off.
- It is pertinent to make all bartenders aware of the decision to cut off a patron. It is futile to have the customer move down the countertop to the next bartender. Moreover, be sure to inform your manager, security personnel and other bartenders of the situation in case the scene escalates and back up is necessary. The management team and other bartenders must share an understanding of the importance of this responsibility and support one another’s judgment of a situation.
- Acknowledge the effects on other customers. An intoxicated and obnoxious patron can turn off potential and loyal customers. If customers appear annoyed, or any visible confrontation, it must be addressed immediately. Moderate drinkers should not have to sacrifice their evening at the expense of someone who cannot handle their alcohol.
Considering the severity of legal ramifications, it is a necessity for bartenders and servers to exercise sound judgment when cutting off any customers they deem too intoxicated to function. Moreover, the Dram Shop Laws, which vary by state, place a large amount of responsibility on the bar or restaurant’s shoulders.
If there is an inkling of doubt of the sobriety of a patron, it is always better to err on the side of caution. This heedful, yet necessary notion protects your establishment as well as any third-party such as drivers on the road.